Improving Measurement Precision in Experimental Psychopathology Using Item Response Theory

Leah M. Feuerstahler, Niels Waller, Angus MacDonald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Although item response models have grown in popularity in many areas of educational and psychological assessment, there are relatively few applications of these models in experimental psychopathology. In this article, we explore the use of item response models in the context of a computerized cognitive task designed to assess visual working memory capacity in people with psychosis as well as healthy adults. We begin our discussion by describing how item response theory can be used to evaluate and improve unidimensional cognitive assessment tasks in various examinee populations. We then suggest how computerized adaptive testing can be used to improve the efficiency of cognitive task administration. Finally, we explore how these ideas might be extended to multidimensional item response models that better represent the complex response processes underlying task performance in psychopathological populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)695-725
Number of pages31
JournalEducational and Psychological Measurement
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020

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© The Author(s) 2019.


  • cognitive assessment
  • computerized adaptive testing
  • item response theory


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